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Resurfacing the Soul of Social Media With Lo-Fi Content

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In recent years, we’ve seen advertisers increasingly take advantage of low-fidelity marketing, particularly on social media. This “perfectly imperfect” content, mostly known for its underproduced visual representation, can also manifest in inconsistent voiceover quality and low-effort copywriting that has no regard for punctuation or capitalization.

Lo-fi marketing at first appeared counterintuitive to many brands and advertisers—in an industry with a history of airbrushed, auto-tuned perfection, “trying less hard” just didn’t feel right. But more brands have been embracing the content style, initially out of the necessity arisen during the pandemic, which stripped advertisers of their conventional production capabilities, and eventually due to its evident benefits.

Leaning into lo-fi production has not only equipped brands and agencies to more effectively partake in fleeting trends and operate on tighter timelines, it also allowed them to speak on par with their audiences and form authentic connections through content that appears native in the context of social media platforms. However, the lo-fi surge isn’t the only change that marketers have to adapt to: Methods of more professional production are rapidly evolving as well. The advancements of the contemporary industrial revolution, fancily dubbed Industry 4.0, is becoming widely accessible, including in the form of generative AI.

With both the ends and the means of creative production transforming so swiftly, the fate of content—and the professionals who create it—is in question. Where will lo-fi content evolve? How should creators adapt to AI tools? And could one perhaps be the remedy for the other?

Keeping up with the speed of culture

The first reason marketers are trading in tens of thousands of dollars of production gear and state-of-the-art post-processing techniques for camera phones and wonky in-app green screen filters is agility. Brands are forced to compete with creators who don’t have to navigate corporate red tape and multiple rounds of revisions in an extremely fast-paced, culture-driven environment. Naturally, production and timeline economies allow marketers to better meet ephemeral cultural moments.

The second reason is authenticity. Lo-fi doesn’t mean low quality; in fact, it requires something very difficult to fake: a keen ear to the ground of ever-changing culture and genuine connection with community. Turns out brands had permission to step off their shiny pedestals and communicate with customers in an executionally amateur manner all along. Corporations like Wendy’s and Target have used this “social media vocabulary,” ranging from irreverent to insightful, to effectively cut through clutter and reach their consumers.

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